Christian living- dealing with one 'oops' at a time…

Archive for the ‘Life’ Category

Entering Your Promised Land

The Exodus: Leaving Slavery

The Israelites who left Egypt for the Promised Land had only ever known a life of slavery. Exodus is an account that instructs us how to leave that life. Everyone has something that holds them back from achieving everything God has available for them in this life. Think about your goals and dreams, and about how you can bring about godly changes in your situation as well.

1. First, sit down and create a list of the things which hold you back.

These things typically fall into the category of “stinking thinking,” which includes thinking that any other life is impossible, or someone else has the power to keep it from you. There may be obstacles, but many times the will to change and the willingness to do the hard work will lead to success. The Egyptians knew that the Israelites had grown too numerous and that they would be unable to keep them as slaves if they chose to rebel, so they put things into place to keep them down, including killing off their male children. The Israelites were so used to slavery, that even the order of the death of their children did not inspire them to revolt. “Stinking thinking” often makes us believe that things are hopeless, when they are not. The Egyptians knew that the Israelites had power and did everything they could to keep them from realizing how much power they had.

The other category that often holds people back is “habit and/or lack of knowledge.” Scripture often states that God’s people suffer due to a lack of knowledge. Many times we too are stuck in routines that are counterproductive or merely do not have the knowledge of how to do things in a more productive manner. For example, many of us are successful but busy, and cannot imagine having to do more, so we turn down many opportunities we might enjoy, that may even lead to more success. There are people however that own and operate large businesses, and/or multiple businesses and accomplish much more than we do each day. The difference? They know how to use their resources, which includes hiring other people. Sometimes we just need to know how to do things in a different way, and we will be able to accomplish so much more! The Israelites did not know how to live independently, and relied on the Egyptians for their food. God provided their basic needs in the desert, but not the extras they felt they were entitled to. The Israelites did not look for solutions, nor did they ask for what they wanted appropriately; they merely complained, which angered God. Sometimes it is our lack of knowledge regarding how to approach a situation appropriately, even to the point of not knowing where the resources are and how to access them that holds us back. Asking for help, and searching for answers is always better than giving up.

2. Now, think of the things that you wrote down on the list and figure out what your personal “idols” are. An idol is anything that you put in place of God, which would include anything that you give power in your life to hold you back from everything God made you to be. These would include fear of upsetting people, thinking that God made you less than others so even with hard work and dedication you will fail, and thinking that you past determines your future. The Israelites were slaves. They had no training in living on their own, and no reason to believe they could go someplace and run their own nation successfully, especially during a time when nations frequently fought and the loser became the other nation’s slaves. The fear that they could end up in a worse situation than the one that they left was based on a very real possibility! So, the first thing God did was to prove that He was more powerful than any Egyptian god or other thing that the slaves were taught to fear/ idolize in the land they grew up in. Look at your list objectively, and see whether, or not, the things you believe are holding you back are really as powerful as you believe. Find others like you who have succeeded and research how they did it. Chances are the things you believe are holding you back are not insurmountable, though there may be hard work involved in the overcoming. The hard work helps us grow and teaches us resilience, and at times can be very satisfying, so do not fear it!

3. The Israelites then had to cross the Red Sea. They had to take action. They collected their belongings and moved! They also had to trust that the path through the sea would not collapse and drown them as they traveled on it. What actions do you need to take to reach your goals? What things are you worried about “collapsing” or “drowning” you as you pursue a better life? Can you trust God to help you through? Even though it was difficult in the desert, the Israelites were sustained, and while their complaining and lack of faith prevented them from entering the land, their children made it into the land. Even if we do not perform perfectly, our attempts set up our children for a brighter future as well!

4. Not going back to your old ways. God gave the Israelites new laws. In the process of receiving a new way to live, the Israelites decided to go back to some of their old ways and worship the golden calves. Going back to former habits often results in losing progress and may put you back where you started. What habits can you absolutely not return to if you wish to stay on a successful path? Make a list and refer back to it when you are tempted to go back to your old, comfortable, ways. Some habits do not look so bad from your perspective, but a person who is further along the path you wish to take may tell you not to do such and such a thing. Listen to them. Sometimes we do not see that we are sabotaging our own goals because we have not gotten to a place where we completely understand what it takes to succeed.

5. The Israelites doubted and complained- a lot. The path to success requires hard work and sacrifice. Anyone who has made it big will tell you about the difficult time they had getting there. The rewards at the end of the journey are good, but you do have to put in some work, and it will not always be pleasant. Doubting you will succeed and/or complaining will only keep you in the “hard work” phase longer and make you miserable while you are there! With the right attitude, even the hardest work phase can be enjoyable as you feel a sense of accomplishment with each successive step. Break up your task into smaller goals so it is easier to see your progress and celebrate each victory you achieve! The Israelites won a lot of smaller wars before they entered the Promised Land. Figure out what “wars” you face and tackle them with wisdom!

Remember, the Promised Land you seek may not be financial. It may be a health goal, or a want for a more peaceful life. Ask for help from someone who has been there and done that if you are able. They often have wisdom that will help you avoid mistakes as well. You may have to give up things to move forward. This is not always bad, as the benefits will be worth it! Too often we stay in “slavery,” knowing that there is an aspect of our life that is not good, but unable to believe it could ever be better. Don’t let yourself remain enslaved when the Promised Land awaits!

Social Pressures in the Garden of Eden

Adam and Eve: Ruining the Earth for Future Generations

               The biggest question here is why Adam gets all the blame. Eve ate the fruit first, but we are told that it was Adam, and not Eve, who brought sin into the world. Eve’s actions were not without punishment, but Adam gets the brunt of the blame. Why? Thankfully, scripture has an answer for this. Eve was deceived. (2 Cor 11:3, 1 Tim 2:14) but Adam sinned with full knowledge of what he was doing. What does this tell us? Eve: It is important to have all the information before making an important decision or things could go very wrong. It is also important, especially when making a decision that will have a great impact, that you check back with the source of your information. (They did walk nightly in the garden with God…) Adam: Knowing something is wrong and doing it anyways often has grave consequences. (Pun intended!) Being ‘prudent,’ which is also recommended in scripture, and checking things out before you ‘bite’ is always a good idea. Following the under-informed/deceived/well-meaning but not fully correct, no matter how much you think you love them or wish to please them, when you know they are wrong, is also a very bad idea…

               There are many pressures in life to do as Adam and Eve did, and sometimes we fall victim to the same scenario. There are many, many pressures to conform in our society today, especially when the person placing the pressure on you believes themselves to be right, and further, believes you to be a ‘bad person’ if you do not agree. Some days we are Eve, thinking something will work out okay and being horribly wrong. And, some days we are Adam, not wanting to disappoint our loved ones, even though we know this is a bad idea. Both are problematic, and here, the consequences are disastrous. But it is a good lesson in both avoiding deception when able, and not following along when you know something is wrong, which in our society today, is usually is due to our tendency to want to please others and avoid a confrontation. And just to place a little less judgement on Adam, Eve was the only other human he had to interact with, and if she was mad at him, well, his life was really not going to be very pleasant!

Why Do Prayers Sometimes Go Unanswered?


Ever wonder why your prayers are not answered?

In Christian circles we seem to believe ‘ask and you receive,’ yet we all know that this is not the way it happens. While God wants to bless us abundantly, there are some conditions regarding these requests. So some of our prayers go unanswered.
The book of Numbers may give us some clues as to why that is.

While wandering in the desert, the Israelites ‘asked’ for many different things. Some requests were granted, while others made God very angry and resulted in punishment.
Let’s explore what is a good thing to ask for, and what is not, and why that is.

First the Israelites complained about ‘adversity,’ or ‘hardship.’ God has organized the camps, gave people some things to carry, and then led the people visibly to the land He promised them. How did they respond? They complained. These former slaves who had just left miserable working conditions complained about the way God was personally leading them to a land of prosperity and freedom. Complaining about the work we have to do in order to get to our blessing is not the way to pray! God sent fire into the camps. He was not pleased.

Next we see them complaining because there is no meat. They are being fed miraculously with manna, for what is still supposed to be a short trip to the Promised Land. They are not satisfied with what they have, and want more. God provides them with so much they puke it out through their nostrils, and sends a plague. While it is Biblical to cry out to God when you are truly starving, it is not good to complain when He is providing you with what you need just because you think you deserve more.

Then we are told that Miriam and Aaron thought they deserved the position God gave Moses. Miriam and Aaron speak against Moses and explain why they believe that they, not Moses, should be the leader. Miriam is cursed with leprosy and forced to be outside the camp. In today’s society this would be like wanting to be the boss because you think you know better, so you do not follow the bosses instructions and do things your way instead. This also leads to ‘being outside the camp’ as you will not likely be promoted, but fired!

We then learn that ten of the spies come back and report that there is no way they can take the Promised Land that God has personally brought them to appearing as fire and a cloud and feeding them daily. They lose their blessing and God waits 40 years for their children to be ready. Prayer that shows a lack of faith that God will provide is not what God desires.

So what does this look like in real life:

God does not seem to like a life spent complaining about your current situation when, even though you do not seem to have all you want, if you currently have enough, God may be waiting on you to stop belly-aching to bless you! (It is okay to call out to God in scripture when you are truly suffering!). You are to be satisfied in your work, and not complain about what God has currently called you to do, so complaining about your job may keep you in it longer… You are not to go against leadership in ways that usurp their position. There are proper ways to deal with bad leadership; talking behind their backs, not respecting their authority and undermining the boss are not it. Remember, we are to do everything as if we are doing it for God, not man! Be the best employee you can and see what God does. (This is also a good way to get a promotion and be out from under your current boss…) And we are also to trust God to fulfill His promises. If you do not have a blessed life, rather than complain, make sure you are actually obeying God’s Word (because there are punishments for not doing so that you may be experiencing), make sure you are not being greedy (God may be waiting for your attitude change!) and make sure your desires are godly and not selfish. And make sure you are not missing His blessing by not recognizing the opportunity waiting for you, or by not being willing to do the hard work! (Remember, you won’t get into something like medical school without good grades and there is work to be done to get them! If God gave you the intelligence, are you using it?) Then sit back and trust God and see what He does!

So what type of prayer does God answer?

Within these passages are two requests that God is pleased with. One is the request of the people who are unclean who want to celebrate Passover. God is pleased and creates an alternate date for generations to come to celebrate Passover a month later. This group of people who have touched a dead body desire to be part of the community and to worship God corporately, but are currently unable to do so. God hears their request and grants them a way to participate, honoring their commitment. Prayers that keep you in community with God’s people, even if it not in the same way as others, are honored by God.

The second request is by the daughters of Zelophad. They wish that their father’s name not be lost in the community because he produced only daughters. God responds by saying it is right for daughters in cases like this to inherit, and again makes rules for others in similar situations. The daughters are demonstrating a few things here. One is that they trust the land will be successfully taken, something that the previous generation did not, so they are showing faith that what God said will be done, will actually be done. Secondly they are showing their willingness to be a part of the community and do the hard work of caring for the land even though they, as women, do not have to do this alone, outside a typical marital situation. They will be responsible for both the male and the female tasks of running a household and they are willing to do so for the sake of their family’s legacy, for the next generations. They also know their Bible, and are likely aware that Job’s daughters inherited land as well. As the book of Job is the oldest book of the Bible, this precedent is already in place and they are not letting Moses off the hook by ignoring God’s plan for women to have rights in Israel as well. Their request pleased God as it shows they trust that God will honor His promises, trust that God is the same God of those who came before (Job) and therefore will not change and go back on His Word, and a willingness to take on a more difficult role in order to preserve good things for their families. Trust and a willingness to do the work are a great combination. This is a selfless prayer. While they are asking for land, they are not asking for personal gain, and are trusting in God’s promises.

So, prayers that are not likely to be answered include: selfish desires/ greedy motives, complaints about hard work, desiring another’s position to the point of insubordination (not going about things the right way), and not trusting God to fulfill His promises.
Prayers that are answered: desires to be a part of God’s community, selfless desires that include a willingness to work hard to receive the promise, and desires that show you trust God to fulfill His promises and be true to His Word.

But remember, prayer is not a formula, but a relationship. We fast to draw closer to God, not to bribe Him into doing something for us- that is the way the pagans treat their gods! Satan quotes scripture, and when he tempts Jesus in the desert he uses a quote from the very scripture the people at the time believe should be repeated in order to keep him away! Vain repetition is not effective either. Just ask God for what you need with a sincere heart, be happy with what you do have, trust that He will be there for you, and obey His Word, repenting when obedience was not the option you chose… Remember, God asks us to approach Him as we would our earthly Father (a good one). Trust that He will do what is best in your life, but remember, there is typically a little work and adversity in everything too!

An ultimately, we must remember that God is in charge. He knows the beginning from the end and what is ultimately best. While some things seem to be so unfair, we must trust that there is a way and a plan and that He is ultimately in control.

Lessons for Life….


photo by Matija Barrett

Things I have tried to live by:

Try to touch any to do item once only. If you can take care of it at the moment, do not put it aside, just do it.

You don’t have to be stressed, even if you are busy. Concentrate on doing what you are doing in the moment fully, then move on to the next. Worrying about the next task takes time and energy from the present.

Remember your priorities.  Some things are not worth doing and take time from what is important. Sometimes we need to stop doing little things that others do because it gets in the way of doing the big things we are called to do. Making beds falls into this category for me, and I later discovered letting the sheets air out kills bed bugs!

One of my friends suggested putting a ‘mission statement’ on your refrigerator that outlines you top one or two priorities. If what you are doing does not line up with what you should be doing, change it!

Figure out what you are responsible for (and what you are not):  This applies to work, but also to people who try to introduce drama into your life. (This does not mean you do not help at work, it just means you do not become a doormat and let people take advantage of you, there is a difference.) Regarding drama (because in my world, this is a bigger time waster than stuff to do as it sucks away all of my energy for other things as well): Look at what the person is getting upset about, and, if you can do nothing about it, move on. There is also never-ending drama that has no resolution, at least not one you can provide. When you have done all you can, stop letting it keep you from other things. But, some people create drama that you cannot avoid. Remember Paul and the slave girl? (Acts 16: 16-24) After ‘many days’ of enduring her nonsense, he ‘fixed’ the situation, but not in a way anyone enjoyed. This sometimes needs to happen to, and there will be consequences from the displeased, but enough is sometimes enough.

This also applies to not doing things I am paying other people to do, or children’s chores. If I have told a child to clean up a mess, it is no longer my responsibility to clean up the mess, but it is my responsibility to ensure that it gets done. This is sometimes harder, but in the end the children take more care of what I feel is important (notice I did not say what my neighbor feels is important) and the house runs smoother. Sometimes cleaning up after your kids is actually you being too lazy to do the hard work of teaching them responsibility….. (ouch!)

Do the little ‘extra’ things when you can. Take ownership when appropriate. This involves picking up trash that did not hit the waste basket at work or church etc. You didn’t miss the basket, but you know whoever did is not coming back and if you want the place to look nice, it needs to be done. If you know the person who does it repeatedly, this is different and there may be a teaching moment that has to occur. But typically no one knows who did it, and it could be an honest mistake. Don’t be a schmuck, just do it, and don’t spend all day complaining about ‘how some people…’ Let it go.

Discuss solutions, not problems. It is not wrong to talk about people, but how we talk about people is sometimes wrong. Discuss how we can help improve a situation, rather than complaining and putting others down. Sometimes we need to vent, but keep it focused and short with someone who is mature enough to understand and help you put things into perspective rather than gossiping and getting you even more riled up. Misery likes company, but it is often not productive. Solving the problem makes for a shorter time in the problem. Complaining about it usually accomplishes nothing long term.

Make lists re: what you believe to be right and wrong and then check yourself. Here’s an example. Make a list of what you would consider wrong to say about a person. (Don’t look further in this paragraph until you do!) Now compare that list to your favorite news source, TV shows, comedians, things you share on social media and how you speak especially about politicians or people who think differently than you do. (Remember, you are teaching your children by example.) Are you being fair to the other side? Or just name calling etc? One example of this was when a meme was going around of President Obama on a girl’s bike. It was passed around just to make fun of him. No matter what you think about the man, this is not nice. And the truth was they air brushed out the attachment for the child carrier. In the original picture it seems as if he was riding Michelle’s bike so that he did the hard work of pulling their children, so she would not have to. Much different story. (We can use an example of almost any president here. I merely chose this one because it had a twist and was so obviously in the ‘who cares’ category. We could have chosen people calling Trump ‘orange,’ or people mocking anyone just after their death, or publishing anything negative at that time- do you really think the family wants to read that crap when they are mourning? Not the right time people! This is the time to apply the phrase, ‘If you don’t have anything good to say, don’t say anything at all.’ While this is not always true, being respectful to those who are mourning is typically a good idea.) Now take this closer to home and examine how you talk about your neighbors, friends, co-workers, spouse etc. Sometimes we are convicted by what we think are our own convictions and find we are not living by them very well… (Another ouch!) Look through your social media (if you have one) and see if that is who you really want to be.

Don’t think you have to justify yourself to others. I just lived this by deleting my explanation as to why I did not prioritizing making the beds in an earlier example. (Busybodies often live in your head as well!) When someone puts you down for something, they are telling you that they are a busy-body and not a nice person. Explaining yourself often just opens up more of your story to their nit-picking. Occasionally someone is truly curious and just wants to learn how you look at life, but often, when it is none of their business, this is not the case. Save yourself some time and just politely answer, ‘That’s just how we decided our household should run.’ Or something to that effect, and walk away. This emphasizes that you have made a conscious decision with your spouse AND that it is none of their business. It’s not worth the emotional toll this conversation will require. And yes, they will likely project their issues onto you by thinking you are the ‘witch,’ because any proper response to this behavior will subtly point out that they were out of line, and they will not like that, but then we get into the ‘don’t be a doormat’ discussion… Not everyone will like you. In the Bible being ‘liked’ by the righteous is good; being disliked by those who are not behaving is sometimes par for the course. And those who are liked by everyone is someone we are told to be wary of. (Proverbs 18:24 NASB)

The Knowledge of Good and Evil


Photo by Matija Barrett

AKA: Why We Need a Savior
When King Solomon asked God for wisdom (1 Kings 3:9) he asked God to give him the ability to determine the difference between good and bad. (He assumed he would choose the good…. Ooops!) Ironically the knowledge of good and evil is what enticed Eve to eat the forbidden fruit in the garden. (At that point Adam and Eve only knew that one thing was bad- eating the forbidden fruit- and they choose to do it…) That knowledge led to the expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden. While Solomon wanted the knowledge so he would not be deceived, and would assumedly choose good for him and the people he ruled, what we see is that when given a clear choice, without deception, humans, as a rule, are likely to choose to do what is bad at least some of the time….

A Jaded Christmas Movie Review… Enjoy!

A Jaded Christmas Movie Review….

this post is supposed to be humor/ sarcasm. if you find yourself becoming offended…. Shake it off!

As a mother of seven, granny of four, Christmas time means re-watching the same movies I have seen over and over and over…. Some of you share my pain.

Die Hard
-a truly American Christmas story. An ex-husband risks his life to save his estranged ex-wife. A real Christmas miracle!

A Charlie Brown Christmas
-an utopian Lord of the Flies. Where are the parents? (I actually really like this one.)

How the Grinch Stole Christmas (The Jim Carey version)
-the story of a dysfunctional family. It explains why we don’t invite Uncle G to Christmas. It also explains why Uncle G is ticked with the family. It is the story of why the quieter family members need to speak up before the more pushy members drive those who don’t quite fit in to wrath. The older version had a more positive message.

Frosty the Snowman
-a twisted resurrection story? Are we sure this is meant for Christmas?

Rudolf the Red-nosed Reindeer
-liking someone because you suddenly need them is not the same as true repentance- just saying.

The Santa Clause
-why divorce sucks for the kids. Also a great excuse for post-holiday weight gain!

It’s A Wonderful Life
-no, it isn’t. George Bailey is wonderful; everyone else takes him for granted. This is why we need to show appreciation for the good people in our lives. No one who does as much good as George Bailey should feel alone and suicidal. Stop trying to keep the obnoxious people happy and start showering the good people with love!

A Christmas Story
-it’s time to get some work done around my house when this comes on. I don’t understand this one at all. What’s up with the lamp? Get the kid some eye protection. Lot’s of angst over trivial matters…

A Christmas Carol
-at Scrooge’s age, three ghosts in one night would put him in the ER. There’s only so much an aging heart can take!

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
-unfortunately more true to life than most of us would like to admit…

Home Alone
-the local authorities couldn’t come and get the kid to a safe place before mom could get home? Really? There was no one local to call? What the heck were the parents trying to cover up that they didn’t want anyone to come to the house to help their kid?

David and Michal: What Not to Do in a Marriage

The beginning of this relationship is good. Both David and Michal prove their love for one another- Michal by requesting David as her husband and then saving his life, at risk to her own, by lying to her father to save David’s life. Michal puts an idol in their bed and claims David is ill. Since Saul almost kills Jonathan, his heir, over his loyalty to David, there is a very good chance he will not spare his daughter’s life if she angers him. David too risks his life to be with Michal. As he is a poor shepherd boy, with no means to pay a royal bride price, Saul asks him for 100 enemy foreskins. (Since Jewish men are circumsized, only those outside the Jewish faith would have these intact.) This is a suicide mission. Not only does David have to slay an inordinate amount of men, he must desecrate their corpses- not something the enemy who remains will take kindly to… But David manages to bring 200 foreskins to Saul and is allowed to marry Michal.

After fleeing for his life, David does not come back for Michal. He is able to slay and desecrate 200 warriors, but cannot sneak back for the love of his life?!?!? This likely makes no sense to Michal.

Rule 1: No matter how busy you are- make time for your wife. Women do not do well waiting for you to eventually get around to paying attention to them, and they will assume they are unloved no matter what you have done for them in the past.

Wives: In Song of Solomon the woman goes out and seeks her husband, despite the danger, when he is absent/ inattentive. Use common sense to stay safe, but you have a responsibility to address him and seek to resolve the issues when you feel lonely as well.

David then takes additional wives when he is on the run, proving he believes he can keep his women safe under these conditions.

Rule 2: Do not pay more attention to another woman than you do to your wife. No matter what your relationship with the other woman, she will likely not understand.

Wives: Don’t be stirred to jealousy easily. In today’s work situations men and women must spend time together and will enjoy each other’s company. Address situations that make you uncomfortable with your husband and resolve issues in a way that makes you feel loved without making it difficult for him in the workplace. Remember, Paul has female friends which he addressed as his adoptive sisters and/or mothers. Deborah sang a duet with Barak. Prophets stayed and formed relationships with married women and widows, and helped them achieve the desires of their hearts, etc. Plutonic relationships between men and women exist in the Bible, keep this in perspective.

Michal is then married to another by her father. Whether she has had it with David and was willing to remarry, or whether she was forced by her father, we do not know.

Rule 3: If you leave your wife feeling alone for too long you may lose her. Whether she gets sick of it, or others convince her you are never going to change, you are taking a chance by taking her for granted.

Michal and her new husband, Phaltiel, develop feelings for each other and Phaltiel follows Michal crying, asking for her back as she is taken to David. When David sends for Michal, it is after Saul is dead and Abner defects (Ishbosheth’s head of the military-the new kings, Saul’s heir as Jonathan is dead). It is also a sign of ‘proof’ the Abner is now loyal to David as he goes to bring Michal back. This does not look like the act of a loving husband, but an act of convenience. David, as king, cannot have his wife married to another- proving he cannot protect what is his. He also need proof that Abner is serious when he says he will now be loyal to David, and bringing Ishbosheth’s sister to David will definitely upset the new king.

Rule 4: If you leave your wife lonely, another man may pay more attention to her and gain her affections.

Rule 5: If you only pay attention to your wife when it is convenient, or suits your needs, she will not believe you truly love her, even if you do.

Michal is not back living with David. David dances before the ark, joyous. Michal is upset and berates him when he comes home. David banishes her. (Since she is the wife of a king he likely continues to support her and protect her, but has no contact with her. She cannot have children with another or it will make David look bad, but since David will not acknowledge her, she will be left childless, an embarrassing and potentially difficult situation for women at this time.)

Rule 6: Being happy when your wife is not happy with you will only enrage her. Don’t see her lashing out at you as her fault entirely. Try to discover what is pushing her to nag and/or lash out and work together to fix it.

Rule 7: If you nag and/or lash out at your husband, you will place distance between him and you. If you don’t resolve your issues, the distance may become permanent.

Rule 8: Passionate arguments often mean that the other person still cares. Sound contradictory? If someone I don’t know lashes out at me, I ignore or avoid them. They do not consume my time or energy. The people who get under my skin the most are the people who matter to me. Why? Because I want to matter to them too. You can’t get hurt easily by someone whose opinion or actions mean nothing to you. (Though some of us are such people pleasers that everyone’s opinion matters at an unhealthy level, but that is for another post…)

Real life example: (and I hesitate to put this in because of the emotional nature of our current situation- which I feel is also junior high idiocy- but again, that is another post…) Donald Trump was once interviewed as to what went wrong with his first marriage and rightly said that it was his fault- he spent more time on his business than he did on his marriage. This is true of too many people. Given how well he seems to know his three children from that marriage, it seems he learned from his mistake. Don’t make so many mistakes that you lose what is truly important in life- the people you love.

Romans: Defense of the Mega Church


In reading Romans I realized there was a similarity between what the church in Romans was experiencing, and our ‘mega-church’ problems.

In Romans we see Jewish believers who have grown up in the ‘church.’ They have been raised with rules and expectations regarding what it means to be ‘good.’ Some are saved, and others believe that they are believers even though they are merely rule followers. Both groups tend to believe the ‘rules’ are very important and their words and actions imply that the rules may even be more important than belief, even though they may deny this to be so.

We also see, in Romans, that there are a lot of Gentile believers. They did not grow up with the ‘rules’ and many of them have not bothered to study scripture. They have faith, but only a few know how to live as a believer. There are more ‘true Christians’ in this group, but their lives are often messier than those who have no faith, but live according to God’s law.

How to balance these groups is difficult. Those who grew up with the ‘rules’ and whose lives are a lot less messy will of course believe their ways are better, except the truth is that some of them are not saved- which is worse than having a messy life. Many with messy lives believe, but see the rule followers as judgmental. The lack of faith of some of the rule followers likely draws those who believe away from discovering the blessings associated with knowing and following God’s laws. It was a mess then, and is still a mess now. Combine that with the fact that those who really like the rules expect new believers to be completely perfect in actions upon salvation. These ‘old believers’ (who may not actually believe, but think faith is about works- like the Jews in Romans) will then criticize those who are actually trying to disciple people, which is a slow process (think about how resistant you are to change and conviction even though you are saved and then imagine if you had bigger hang ups such as addiction or family and/or close friends who were loved by you but not good influences). Paul was likely pulling his hair out when he wrote Romans (and every other letter…).

Mega-churches are getting people saved. They may not be doing it the way other churches are doing it, and not everyone may be truly ‘saved’ within the church, but the people are there worshipping God and praying. Mature believers need to figure out how to come along side to help these new believers with their messy lives and lack of Biblical knowledge rather than tearing down what their leaders are doing. They are introducing people to God. Small churches with few converts often resemble the Pharisees more than the early church, making them lovers of the ‘rules’ more than lovers of God. The early church was messy in many, many ways (hence the many different letters, all addressing different problems). Jump in, join the mess and welcome someone to life in Christ!


Manipulation 101


As I watch the elections, and go about my life, I am finding more and more manipulative behavior, and, sadly, I am seeing more and more supposedly very intelligent people falling for it.

So I asked myself, how do we combat this?

But let’s back up.

What do I mean by manipulative behavior?

Well, I mentioned the elections… and, on both sides, the most frequently used manipulations include tearing down a straw man- saying the candidate did, or believes, or supports, or is supported by something they do not. Now there is always a grain of truth in the straw man argument that allows people to say ‘they do so believe that way’ but it is not a whole truth, or a full representation of what the person believes. Then the media trashes the person running by making fun of what they supposedly stand for, taking sound bites or nuggets of information out of context that seemingly proves their point.

The other common logical fallacy that is prevalent today is taking things to an illogical extreme. This candidate said this therefore they must believe, or they have implied this horrible thing. If emotions were less high, every sensible person should be saying- but that is not what they meant. But, since we are whipped into an emotional frenzy we are now outraged that someone would ever say, support etc something so awful. Elections are usually pretty evenly split between the two parties- do you really believe that half of the country would back someone as awful as they are portrayed? Chances are slim and it is likely that the news sources you choose are playing on your emotions- But, do not listen to the other side’s news either, for they are doing the same thing, only since you do not like their candidate you will likely see the fault in their reporting more than you notice it in your own.

On another notes, I am also seeing this behavior on a local level. A few years ago I was part of a committee that was supposedly an important committee. We met, and seemed to make decisions; except we never actually made a decision and no one seemed to notice. We never voted. (Though I am sure the meeting notes reflected a vote… this is why approving the minutes and other parliamentary procedures are important- but we didn’t need to be formal.) Here’s what actually happened. We would meet. The group moderator, after someone made a point contrary to what he had decided would say, ‘let’s hear from the other side.’ He would end the discussion after someone from the side he agreed with spoke and then he would say something to the effect that it looks like the consensus is for whatever the last person was for (his side). Then he would move on. Since the last person who spoke affirmed what he wanted it did seem like that was the majority opinion and we were all happy to have been heard. He was very nice and understanding to those who thought differently and made everyone feel affirmed- but they were not going to overturn his agenda….

Another meeting I went to did vote, but before the vote they presented three detailed explanations for one side of the issue, and then presented responses as to why the opposition was wrong. (This was supposedly a balanced discussion.) They used a lot of emotional language that made it sound like we would be bad people to vote any other way than the position that was being presented in the positive (another common ploy). The vote was almost unanimous when the year before it was a highly contentious issue that failed. Either everyone went home and rethought the issue or their ploy worked.

The other thing I see is cooking the numbers and making them look different than they actually are. For example, in another meeting, we had one person show up from a certain population. Instead of saying only one person showed, they ran stats and said that a certain percentage of the population showed, which made it sound better than one. Not a lie, but it assumes that we are not going to do the math and realize that the percentage means one person showed up. Again, not a lie, but also not as truthful as one would like. This is where all that high school math comes in handy.

So what should we do?

We need to be teaching common logical fallacies, common manipulation techniques and statistics in a way people understand and remember. There are many books to do this from, and some historical examples of books that led to bad behavior that we should examine as to why people bought into these beliefs and how we can avoid doing so in the future. Logic is power. Mob mentality causes people to do things they would not otherwise do because their emotions rule. Right now we are being taken advantage of, and, even if you agree with the aim of the manipulation, it is still wrong. Let’s try to do better.

How can we do better. First and foremost we can stop reposting emotional, name-calling, illogical articles. If we post only content based on well-reasoned arguments and facts we will drive the media to want to create content that is less emotionally driven and more factual. Where you find such content I am not entirely sure. What I do know is that much of what hear people say is fair today is often what is leaning to their way of thinking… so be careful.

How freaky would it be to see two candidates actually debate the plusses and minuses of real plans, and concede points, agree occasionally and come up with something almost everyone could agree on (because it makes sense and takes into account most people’s needs and concerns)?! That level of maturity would be nice…

meme by funny 

Rules vs Priorities

Image 10

We live in a world that likes rules. We have ‘zero tolerance’ for fighting in school (one of my pet-peeves because the child being bullied is usually the one caught and punished the worst…), etc. But is this the best way to live?

God does not live by ‘rules.’

As we see in the Bible there are always times when God made exceptions. For a BIG exceptions see when God did not punish the women for prostitution as it was kind of the men’s fault in Hosea 4:14….

So then how do we live?

By the Holy Spirit!

But when in doubt, a list of priorities helps.

So ask yourself what is your first priority in any situation.

When dealing with your children it may be a good heart attitude. If your child fails a test because they spent their study time trying to convince a friend not to do something horrible and to do the right thing (and this is not a pattern of excuses used for not studying) then maybe we let this one go.

When dealing with your spouse, the priority is to strengthen your marriage. So when they do not load the dishwasher to your specifications or they do not wash your favorite shirt for when you wanted it, maybe we let this go and understand that they may have been working on another priority even you would agree should take precedence.

Rules are not bad, but they need to be flexible.

Too often we hold onto the rules as ‘right’ and forget why they were there to begin with.

For example, how many poems and wall-hangings have you seen reminding you that a clean house is not as important as time spent with your children? There is a reason for this. The older generation, who in the past liked to cross stitch etc was trying to impart wisdom to the younger generation. Sure, a clean house is nice, and to some level necessary, but it needs to take a back seat to being an involved parent who actually knows their kid. Children grow up so fast (trust me on this one!) that it would be a shame to not be the most important influence in their lives. When you obey the rules blindly you often prioritize things that truly don’t matter as much, such as house-keeping and work and lose the opportunity to bond with your child…

Don’t let your children grow up to resent you for not being there.

Don’t let your spouse distance her/himself because all of your rules are hard to deal with.

Be there for the people you love and make sure your priorities, not your rules, determine what you do next.

Making a list of your priorities and putting on a fridge or mirror is sometimes a good way to start.

Tag Cloud

%d bloggers like this: